China-ASEAN Monitor


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Economy, Investment and Trade

Malaysia investigates links between China-backed projects and 1MDB
(6 July 2018) Malaysian Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng announced an ongoing investigation on whether part of a loan from a Chinese state-owned bank for projects valued at US$2.3 billion was used to finance the debts of 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). Meanwhile, Malaysia is also seeking to collaborate with the Chinese government to investigate into the loan and exploring the possibility of recovering funds invested in pipeline projects namely the Multi-Product Pipeline and The Trans-Sabah Gas Pipeline. A settlement worth US$800 million owed to Abu Dhabi state fund IPIC was allegedly financed from a land sale deal with Bank Negara and sell-back shares of sovereign fund Khazanah Nasional Berhad.
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Alibaba Group will continue investing in Malaysia
(9 July 2018) Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group’s investments will not be affected by the review of China-related projects in Malaysia. Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) has assured that the Digital Free Trade Zone (DFTZ) project will continue. Alibaba Group has invested US$100 million (RM400 million) into the DFTZ project and launched the “Malaysia Week” campaign to promote Malaysian products and services. Malaysia’s Finance Ministry has issued a suspension notice for all agreements related to China-linked Multi-Product Pipeline, the Trans-Sabah Gas Pipeline and the East Coast Rail Link projects.
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Lao-China Railway Project produced beams to support railway
(9 July 2018) About 800 pre-stressed concrete beams will be attached on the arches of the Laos-China High-Speed Railway project to create a stretch of the railroad on a flat Vientiane plain. The poles will be placed on arches to support the rails. The total budget of the whole project is estimated to be US$5.986 billion. This project is the first global rail route connecting Laos to China’s network, and once operational, it will also link to the railway network of Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. The total length of the railway is approximately 414 km and expected to travel at the speed of 160 km/h. The construction of the railway will take five years.
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China and Myanmar signed 15-point MoU on Economic Corridor
(6 July 2018) China and Myanmar have agreed to a 15-point Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the establishment of China-Myanmar Economic Corridor, which is part of China’s One Belt One Road Initiative. Under the MoU, both governments agreed to cooperate in sectors such as infrastructure, construction, manufacturing, agriculture, transport, finance, human resources development, telecommunications, and research and technology. The corridor will run from China’s Yunnan Province to Mandalay in central Myanmar, and then east to Yangon and west to the Kyaukphyu Special Economic Zone (SEZ). For the execution of the economic corridors, related ministries from both nations are required to establish a working group and joint committees to plan out infrastructure development plans. According to DICA, China is Myanmar’s biggest investment partner as the former invested US$20.01 billion in Myanmar between 1988 to May 2018.
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The Philippines is looking to reduce visa processing time for Chinese tourists
(8 July 2018) The Philippines is looking to cut the time needed to process visa on arrivals for Chinese tourists to ease their entry into the country. The Philippines government is also considering to place Mandarin-speaking personnel in airports to communicate better with the arriving Chinese tourists. Visa-upon-arrival for Chinese visitors was allowed since August 2018 but only limited to those who are part of the tour groups approved by the Philippines Department of Tourism (DOT). Tourists should apply for the visa ten days before arrival with a fee of US$25.19. DOT’s data showed that Chinese tourists are the second top foreign visitors to the country. From January to May 2018, 559,289 Chinese visitors travelled to the Philippines, a 43.81 percent increase compared to 2017.
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